Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sorting the Nuts

The lead editorial in BayWindows this week shows that the boss lady is out of patience with excusing bigotry on the basis of sincerity. Susan Ryan-Vollmar tees off on the two Mad Dad couples, but she also has special words for U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf.

She ridicules Wolf's consideration of the lawsuit foursome's claim of "sincere religious belief" as justification for their statements, actions and attempt to dictate a homosexual-topic exclusionary curriculum in public schools. When she's right, she is indeed, as when she writes:
But it must be said plainly that the Parkers and the Wirthlins are bigots. That they have “sincerely held religious beliefs” doesn’t mitigate their prejudice.
She doesn't spare the quisling liberals either. Whether it was racial issues or now sexual-orientation ones, she holds that accommodating the bigots or failing to call them on their shameless hiding behind this or that Bible verse as justification is worse than wrong. As she concludes:
The glorious thing about making such a choice for yourself is that this is America and you can believe whatever you want to believe — no matter how outrageous or irrational. Trying to impose your beliefs upon others, regardless of how “sincerely held” they may be, now that’s when the trouble starts.
The only thing missing in her clear view is how even such victories for the good guys as Wolf's dismissal of the lawsuit show America's social retardation. We, the beacon of liberty, far too often bring up the rear in equality and fairness.

Metaphorically writing, Wolf is a safe driver, but he still looks only just in front of his hood ornament. He does see the necessary state of the law and the related case citations. He seems to weigh those accurately. However, he is a far cry from the infamous slur on justices who do their job -- activist judges as wingers like to defame them. Instead, he is content to lead just a little, to let the law and that likewise infamous process that the libertarians worship take their course.

That attitude may well get us where we need to arrive. How unfortunate though that so many suffer on the way to the right place. How much more moral and reasonable it would be to head right for the destination without the layovers to accommodate our hesitancy.

Yet Wolf almost certainly reflects the moderately positive side of American jurisprudence and the larger public. We are slowly, ever so slowly getting over our worst tendencies. Polls and laws are also slowly, ever so slowly changing.

We are one of only a couple of industrialized nations still willing to murder convicted criminals, while the rest of the world outlawed capital punishment as barbaric decades or more than a century ago. On marriage equality and GLBT rights, we are slowly, ever so slowly going to the right places.

On the latter, those directly affected by discrimination, and those egalitarians and others like them are impatient. Why does America have to ride the caboose of liberty? We have the words and concepts in our constitution and popular culture. Why do we give the sincere bigots their say?

As Judge Wolf's, the American way of driving change seems to be just in front of the hood ornament. We don't go too fast or too far without a rest. It seems to be the liberal liberty loving sorts who let the lowest common denominator folk slowly, ever so slowly catch up.

I think it would not be bad to leave them in the dust. They can come to the right place eventually. I suspect that seeing the nation go on without them would be the right message on the way.

That requires some justices -- and help us all, some lawmakers -- with more courage and vision that our current set. Those criteria need to top the list in future elections. We must ask our hopeful legislators and executive branch candidates if they know how to drive our nation efficiently as well as just where to head.

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